I began my day at the doctor’s reception desk, requesting the soonest available appointment for an inspection of my tick bite site. I didn’t like the angry O that encircled the mouth bits that I hadn’t been able to extract. The lady took me serious, and scooted me in for an appointment within the hour. Let me back up…
I do checks several times a day on me and my dogs, trying to make sure that these creepy spider relatives don’t suck our blood. We’ve got your American dog tick and your woodchuck and rabbit ticks. And we’ve got my favorite creepy crawler, the deer tick, carrier of a little bacterium known as Borrelia burgdorferi. I am quite good at getting the critters before they latch on, but just in case I keep a tweezer and alcohol handy at all times.
I know exactly when this particular tick bit me. I had one post-shower walk in the yard at sundown on Sunday, and a couple hours later, I did another swipe up my legs and there it was. I don’t know one tick from another. All species are pulled off and flushed down the toilet with the same speed. And then I watch the site, just to make sure that I don’t develop the BULL’S EYE.
Yesterday evening I did a double take. USUALLY the mouth bits cause a LITTLE lumpy something as my body kicks them out. But this looked mean. Different.
I am not taking chances, y’all. Lyme disease is endemic in Northeastern Pennsylvania and physicians around here don’t mess around. That is how I came to sit patiently waiting in the windowless room.
The doctor examined my leg, and explained that ticks release proteolytic enzymes when they bite which causes bruising sometimes. AND THAT IS WHAT I HAD EVIDENCE OF ON MY LEG!!!! What relief! Of course I will continue to monitor for Lyme’s flu-like symptoms, as per usual after a known tick bite. But for now I am Lyme FREE! (Also for the record, ticks have to be attached, sucking your blood, for about 36 hours before they can infect you with Lyme bacteria…)
But this incident got me wondering…what did my ancestors do about ticks? Did they pluck ’em off? Did they worry about getting sick from them? Were there as many ticks then as we have now?